Meeting le monde

25th November 1994 at 00:00
ESQUISSES HEXAGONALES, Associated Examining Board, (AEB). Video and book "Jeunesse, medias, environnement", ref EHJ1001P Pounds 43.50.

Video and book "Loisirs, education, criminalite" ref EHL2001P Pounds 43.50. Both from: Publications Department, Associated Examining Board, Stag Hill House, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XJ Colin Russell enjoys finding out what the French think.

Esquisses Hexagonales is a video package produced by the Associated Examining Board, comprising two videos with supporting booklets (each available separately), aimed at advanced post-16 students. The format is simple and effective: six of the most popular topic areas youth issues, the media, the environment, sport and leisure, education and training, and crime and violence brought to the screen, using short interviews with experts and the general public.

So what exactly do you get for your money? In short, a great deal of exploitable material. Each video gives you about an hour of interviews and the accompanying booklet supplies a transcript with help on vocabulary, background information (such as unemployment or crime statistics, facts on the French press or the education system), suggestions for use with students and lots of addresses for further information. Clearly, there is material here which will complement a wide variety of courses.

In-class reaction was positive with a group of Year 13 A-level students. They liked the material, particularly the crime section, found the speakers clear and enjoyed the different accents, although they needed time to cope with the level of some of the language.

Their teacher was impressed by the amount of material which could be explored, but felt that even given the tasks and suggestions for activities in the booklets, some effort was needed beforehand to exploit the tapes properly. Certainly, there are numerous possibilities for follow-up work whether in oral or written form, such as pair-work, discussion, essay-writing or comparisons with Britain. Indeed, each topic informs the viewerconsumer on a facet of French life. The interviews are not confined to one town or area Paris, Lyon, Montpellier, St-Malo, even Belgium was represented. Nor is the linguistic register restricted there are experts in different fields, actors, nurses, wine growers, remand prisoners, school children, students and the result on screen is a good cross-section of today's French society.

Although the format is simple, this should not be regarded as implied criticism. True, each topic does only comprise of interviews. More important is the fact that each topic has clearly visible segments which are easy to find and therefore to replay as necessary. Moreover, the clarity of recording is a big advantage for comprehension.

Esquisses Hexagonales is a serious resource for advanced students of French, complementing topic work, practising listening comprehension, encouraging other language activities and depicting facets of French life through an interesting mix of real people.

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